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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Review

This camera in Panasonic’s Micro Four Thirds series is highly desirable from a number of angles, not least of which is the touch screen system. And you can buy it in three body colours: black, red and blue

The test camera was supplied with the f3.5/14-42mm kit zoom lens, an average and quite useful optic for everyday use.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Features

Size: the maximum image size is 4000×3000 pixels, from which you can make a 34x25cm print.

Movies: the maximum size is a disappointing 1280×720 pixels, recorded in AVCHD format; smaller movie resolutions are captured in Motion JPEG. There is an onboard microphone and you can connect an (advisable) external one into a tiny input at the camera’s top left corner. One plus is that you can shoot stills while shooting video and frames can be ‘pulled’ from the video after shooting.

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The G2 is compact, possessing a similar size to many super zoom fixed lens compacts. This model has Panasonic’s touch screen, one of the features that I figure will win many followers in the coming months.

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I had occasion to use the vari-angle 7.5cm LCD touch screen before I had gone very far with the G2: starting off by shooting my regular ISO tests I found the shot series was underexposed. The manual was a bit ‘blurry’ about this, so I started tapping the screen and quickly found that a previous reviewer had dialled in a 1.3 stop underexposure setting. No probs: I simply called up the screen and fiddled with the on screen ‘exposure meter. Impressed.

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With the touch screen you can adjust aperture, shutter speed and exposure compensation by a simple slide of a finger over the screen (a finger nail is best, because it is a pressure sensitive screen). In replay you can easily select shots or change size in similar fashion.

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There is of course Live View and you can use Full Time Live View to compose a shot and check your settings.

There are four AF functions: touch the screen and AF tracks the subject as it moves; a single area, changeable in size, AF lets select an area in frame to direct the focus point, face detection; multi area with 23 AF areas and nine groups.

Before I had seriously investigated the manual (typical you say!), I was a bit befuddled by the lack of a focus switch on the lens to switch from auto to manual. Then the light came on and I found a tiny lever, top left of camera, which gave me the option of single shot focus, continuous focus or manual. Using the later I then could roll the lens’ focus ring to my heart’s content!

The optical image stabiliser has four modes: off; always on; only when the shutter button is pressed; correction for up/down movement (during panning).

My Colour Mode: for some this is an easy way to making ‘art’ images … others will decry it! You can choose from an elegant look, mono, silhouette and four others plus a custom mode which gives you direct control over your twists and turns.

There is also Film Mode which lets you choose from dynamic colour, smooth colour and a number of other variations that emulate the look of various film types. For me, this retro approach is useless: who, apart from pros, can seriously distinguish (and remember!) the image quality of films made by Fujifilm, Kodak, Agfa etc?

There are also 26 scene modes: sunset, party, pets … I’m sure you know the list. An interesting one is Peripheral Defocus mode: the G2 focuses on the selected AF areas while gently blurring (defocusing) the foreground and background; this takes place without the usual aperture fiddling.

With the Full-time Live View function, you can see how these settings will change the look the shots before you shoot.

ISO Tests

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It was ISO 800 when noise became visible in plain areas of tone. By ISO 6400 — forget it!

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Review Verdict

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Quality: easy to use, I could catch some nice quality pictures. Good and sharp too. Nice tonal range.

Why you would buy it: you need a small, interchangeable lens camera.

Why you wouldn’t: if you want Full HD (1920×1080) look elsewhere … like Panasonic’s GF2 and others!

One thing which annoyed me was the location of the card slot: under the camera, instead of at the side. So, when the camera is tripod-mounted, you have to remove it to unload cards!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 Specifications

Image Sensor: 12.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multiple, centre-weighted and spot.
Effective Sensor Size: 17.3×13.0mm Live MOS. Lens Factor: 2x. Compatible lenses: Micro Four Thirds.
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: Bulb, 60 to 1/4000 second. Flash sync: 1/160 sec.
Burst Speed: 2, 2.6 (both with Live View), 3.2 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC cards (Class 6 for movie shooting)(.
Image Sizes (pixels): 4000×3000 to 1504×1504. Movies: 1280×720 (AVCHD Lite), 848×480, 640×480, 320×240 (all Motion JPEG) at 30fps.
Viewfinders: Turret (1,440,000) 7.5cm LCD screen (460,000 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW, AVCHD Lite/QuickTime Motion JPEG.
Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 1600 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, AV, HDMI mini, stereo mic input, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, AC adaptor.
Dimensions: 124×83.6×74 WHDmm.
Weight: Approx. 593 (inc body, 14-42mm lens, card and battery).
Prices: Get a price on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-G2 12.1 MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera with 3-Inch Touch Screen LCD and 14-42mm Lumix G VARIO f/3.5-5.6 MEGA OIS Lens.

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

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